After months of running an "exploratory" campaign for governor -- and raising oodles of money for that prospective 2010 race -- Texas Republican Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison made it official Monday: She is challenging Republican incumbent Rick Perry in the gubernatorial primary next March.
Hutchison also announced Monday, at a news conference in her hometown of Dallas, that she raised $6.7 million for her campaign in the first six months of this year, ending what her campaign said was "the first phase" of her bid for governor. Hutchison earlier had transferred $8 million from her Senate campaign treasury to her account for the governor's race, which now reports more than $12 million in cash on hand.
"While phase one of the campaign was designed to ensure we have the resources to deliver Kay's conservative message to voters across our state, it is now time to begin delivering that message," wrote Rick Wiley, Hutchison's campaign manager, in a memorandum.
He added that Hutchison would hold a formal announcement event in August, when Congress will be on its summer recess.
Perry's campaign earlier said that he raised $4.2 million in a nine-day period that ended June 30, and had $9.3 million in total cash reserves. Texas law barred Perry from raising money until June 22, after the state legislative and gubernatorial veto sessions ended.
Both of these longtime figures in statewide politics represent elements of the Republican Party's rise to political dominance in Texas, formerly a Southern Democratic stronghold.
Hutchison was serving as state treasurer when she won a June 1993 Senate special election -- she succeeded Democrat Lloyd Bentsen, who had resigned to become President Bill Clinton's first Treasury secretary -- then was easily re-elected to full terms in 1994, 2000 and 2006.
Perry was elected in 1998 as lieutenant governor to Gov. George W. Bush, who greatly expanded the GOP's grip on political power in the state. Perry moved up to governor in late 2000 after Bush was elected to his first of two terms as president. After a routine victory for a full term in 2002, Perry struggled through a four-way race in 2006 in which he won with a 39 percent plurality and a 9 percentage-point margin over his closest competitor.
Perry has moved aggressively in recent months to strengthen his Republican primary base by taking outspoken conservative stands on issues. He is trying to position himself to the right of Hutchison, who has for the most part voted a strongly conservative line as a senator but is more moderate than Perry on some matters, especially social issues such as abortion rights.
The Democratic field presently includes Tom Schieffer, a businessman and ambassador to Australia and Japan during Bush's presidency. The primary could also include musician Richard "Kinky" Friedman, an independent candidate in the 2006 election who is exploring a 2010 campaign as a Democrat.
This isn't good news. This means Perry's road to renomination is hobbled with someone who only seems to represent the special interests of Washingtom. We need Perry. He's the only thing protecting Texas from Obama's multi-Trillion dollar ponzi scheme. Perry is a proven leader. VOTE PERRY!!!